The Los Angeles Lakers were having a great season before the coronavirus stopped the NBA and all sports in their tracks. Injury-free LeBron James was having a comeback season and helped lead the team to a 49-14 record, second-best in the NBA. They’d even secured a spot in the playoffs.
The Lakers’ renaissance (as well as his own) makes the stoppage of basketball even more painful for James. The Lakers were poised to do something great, but now the resumption of the season is totally up in the air. And if it doesn’t restart, that’ll be a hard thing for James to get over.
No closure if season never resumes
“I don’t think I would be able to have any closure if we did not have an opportunity to finish the season,” James said in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday.
Part of the reason for that is how unlikely it was, according to James. His first season with the Lakers was disappointing, and while the team had gotten markedly better in the offseason, there was a lot of newness.
James said he was surprised the team gelled so quickly.
«I can have some satisfaction on what our team has been able to do this year, having a first-year coach, first-year system, a whole new coaching staff, bringing on so many new pieces to our team this year,» James said. «Doing the things that I honestly — like I told you guys all year — I honestly didn’t think that we would be able to come together as fast as we did. I thought it would take us a lot longer than it did. But I was wrong. I was very wrong about that.»
That only makes the possible end of the season harder to accept. The Lakers had overcome so much on and off the court (the tragic deaths of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna in January hit the Lakers and their fans especially hard) and were set to make a run at the title.
That the season may never be completed means the story of this specific Lakers team would remain unfinished. That would be tough to swallow, but James said he’d still be proud of everything the organization has accomplished this season.
«Everything that we’ve been going through this season, just the ups and downs — not only on the floor, but off the floor; everything that we’ve had to endure as the Laker faithful and us as players and the coaching staff and the organization, it’s been so much,» James said. «So, closure? No. But to be proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish to this point, I’ll be able to look back and be like, ‘OK, we did something special in that small period of time.'»
James is open to playing games in “isolated destination”
We have no idea when or if the 2019-2020 NBA season will restart, but James is staying in shape. He told reporters that he’s working out four or five times a day.
He’s also done a turnaround on playing games without fans. He was initially against the idea, but after a solid month of no NBA he’ll welcome the resumption of the season however it comes about.
«I believe once [the pandemic is] under control and they allow us to resume some type of activity, I would love to get the season back going,» James said Wednesday via ESPN. «I feel like we’re in a position where we can get back and start to compete for a championship, get back to doing what we love to do, making our Laker faithful proud of us, of being back on the floor. And if it’s in one single, isolated destination … if it’s Las Vegas or somewhere else that can hold us and keep us in the best possible chance to be safe — not only on the floor, but also off the floor, as well — then those conversations will be had. Just figuring out a way.»
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